The Stone Bell House on Old Town Square is unmissable. It is an example of the pure beauty of the original Gothic architecture, and its beauty stands up even next to such distinctive neighbors as the Kinsky Palace and the Church of Our Lady before Týn. Less than half a century ago, however, it was a neglected Baroque house converted into apartments, warehouses, and offices. Not to mention the fact that one of the inhabitants of the house had a bathroom in its chapel and didn’t even know the chapel was there.
(The white surfaces are part of an art installation.)
When on February 25, 1948, the communists took over power in the state in their putsch, their chairman Klement Gottwald said the sentence: “I am just returning from the Castle from the President of the Republic. I can tell you that Mr. President accepted all my proposals.” This happened during his speech on the balcony of the Kinsky Palace in Old Town Square, that moment is documented in many photographs.
It was only after 1989 that researchers found out that the photos were from February 21, while Gottwald said the famous sentence on February 25, standing on the back of a truck in Wenceslas Square. Of course, photos from the balcony of the Kinsky Palace are much more impressive, so the ruling communists promoted this legend for 40 years.
It wouldn’t have mattered where the speech was given if the Stone Bell House hadn’t been nearly demolished because of it. The photo was one of the flagships of communist ideology, and the neglected house next to the Kinsky Palace was simply not representative enough. So serious thought began to be given to the fact that the house would be demolished. Fortunately, this did not happen in the end and the house was instead reconstructed. The so-called regothicization took place.
The house was built in the first half of the 14th century. After 1685, the Gothic roof was removed and the marl parts of the facade were battered (this can still be seen on its facade today). In 1775, baroque built-in galleries were built in the yard, and at the end of the 19th century, the house was renovated in a neo-baroque style. Even so, halls with fragments of stone elements and wall paintings, and two Gothic chapels have been preserved.
The restorers then did a great job – they even found 1,200 fragments of marl from the original Gothic facade in the building sediments, documented everything, and reused the fragments for the new facade. And so perfectly that today we all think that this Gothic house stood on the Old Town Square in the same form already in the middle of the 14th century…
And why is the house called the Stone Bell House? It commemorates the year 1310 when the fourteen-year-old King Jan Lucemburský and his eighteen-year-old wife Eliška Přemyslovna entered the city. At that time, they had to expel the previous King Jindřich Korutanský. The siege of the city was unsuccessful at first, but Eliška Premyslovna arranged with her confessor Berenger, who opened the northern gate after the agreed ringing from the Church of Our Lady before Týn and Jan Lucemburský took control of the city.
Six years later, the future King Charles IV was born to the couple. It is not certain where he was born, but it was certainly not at Prague Castle, which was then uninhabitable after a fire in 1303. The future Father of the Fatherland was therefore born either in the House at the Štuparts (this seems more likely) or right here, in the Stone Bell House.